Omar Rabb, a member of the Clarence Sabree Islamic Center in downtown Roanoke, demonstrates the Muslim call to prayer. Along with Imam Ibrahim Hamidullah, Rabb and others have visited several churches and temples in the Roanoke Valley for discussions to help ease the barriers between Christians and Muslims.

Omar Rabb stood Sunday morning in the parish hall at Christ Episcopal Church and raised his hands to his ears before singing out in Arabic that Allah is the greatest.

Ordinarily, the muezzin, or the man appointed to call the faithful to prayer, would stand in the courtyard of the mosque or in a minaret, a type of tower used in Islamic architecture.

Rabb’s resonating voice was an unusual experience for about 40 people listening inside the Christian hall. It’s part of an interfaith dialogue that seeks to erase barriers between Islam and Christianity.

Rabb and other members of the Clarence Sabree Islamic Center in Roanoke, including Imam Ibrahim Hamidullah, have teamed up with the Rev. Jan Fuller, the chaplain and religious studies professor at Hollins University, to lead a six-week lecture series on the Muslim faith.

Fuller, who attends Christ Episcopal Church, said she broached the lecture series as a way of fostering mutual understanding, conversation and respect.

Many of the forum participants said it has given them a broader context to news of religious clashes in Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere.

Caroline Bloodworth of Roanoke said she has attended all of the lectures so far and plans to show up at the remaining two sessions.

“I came here not knowing anything about Islam and wanted to be better educated. My eyes have been opened,” Bloodworth said. “This series has given me a deeper respect for the Muslim community.”


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